Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West



On November 8, 1982 NASA Test Pilot Richard E. Gray was assigned to fly the NASA operated T-37B 60-0084 a routine mission from the NASA Dryden facility at Edwards AFB Flight Test Center to an area some twenty-five miles NE of base. Once in the designated area Mr. Gray was to begin a series of spin proficiency tests which he did with tragic results. Apparently the T-37B entered a flat spin that was not recoverable, though Mr. Gray made every effort to do so. Realizing that recovery was not possible Test Pilot Gray attempted to eject, but it was sadly too late.

In September 2010 I travelled to a remote area near Highway 395, north of Edwards AFB with Ryan Gilmore, and Chris LeFave. Our mission was to locate several crash sites dating back to the 1950’s. The last site on our list was that of the NASA T-37B. After a considerable time spent crisscrossing the desert crash site was finally located. Being a spin accident with a small aircraft the remaining wreckage was concentrated in a limited area. Following our survey we estimated that two to three percent of the T-37B remained in situ. What shocked us was Ryan Gilmore’s discovery of Richard E. Gray’s wristwatch laying on the desert surface at main impact.

We placed our Nation’s flag at the site as we completed our photo documentation process, and at that point Ryan said the watch must be returned to Richard E. Gray’s next of kin. Chris and I agreed, and Ryan accomplished that mission within two weeks of our site visitation. Before leaving the T-37B crash site we paused to remember a pilot who had a career of distinguished aviation accomplishments for the U.S. Navy and NASA too.



All of the aluminum parts showed signs of post impact fire.
(All photo by G. P. Macha except where stated.)

T-37B wreckage including fragment of starboard nav. light lens.

Most of the larger T-37B parts observed were from wing, tail, or flight control surfaces.


The flag of respect and honor.

 Concentration of small shards and fragments of 60-0084.

  Structure possibly associated with the T-37B fuselage.

Environmental biologist and aviation accident researcher, Ryan Gilmore places the  pilot's watch on his clipboard to photo document his discovery.

Ryan holds Richard E. Gray's watch aloft for a final on site photo. (Photo courtesy Ryan Gilmore)



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